The Promise


Recently an episode of a long running TV series on Netflix pointedly focused on being a father. A successful surgeon went on a countryside trip, sat in a restaurant all day, waiting. He was hoping the elderly owner of the restaurant would recognise him. He left disappointed. Urged by his wife, he went back the next day. The owner told him the restaurant was closed, but that he could cook him something special on the side. The surgeon faced up and said he did not come for the food. He mentioned who he was and the owner who was his father let the information sink in. The father was unfazed, and asked the son about his life, then asked specifically why he had come. The son said he had wondered ever since his father left, what it looked like to not fulfil an important promise in life. Each time he went into surgery, he made a silent promise to do his level best to save his patient. Now that his wife was pregnant, he had made a life-long promise. That he would be there for his child. The restaurant owner was silent. The surgeon turned around and left, without looking back.


I saw my actor friend got hitched, happily married, became a father, once, then again. For his work, he needs to be based in Beijing. I don’t see him much and when I do, he is both focused and unfocused. He can be talking to you, and the next thing you know, he is diverted to his daughter or his son, looking into their needs. The subjects of his conversations have expanded. Even for the regular subjects, they include longer-term planning, inclusive of wife and children. I hear he talks to his family daily when he is on overseas shoot. He takes interest and special fatherly stand on issues pertaining to upbringing and education. Two weeks ago, his family came for a visit. I had the benefit of seeing him with his wife and children for an extended period of time. The children are at a point when they are most demanding of both time and attention, but their parents are more than up to the challenge. They fussed over the smallest details with expedient ease. While he attended to his children, I saw flashes of him evolving from a young artiste to now feeding his daughter, tugging his children in for their afternoon nap. His attention to his children was total. And undivided. In one afternoon, on his face, i saw the promise of fatherhood…


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